My Journey of embodying Kaizen

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Kaizen is the Japanese business principle of continuous improvement. As the gospel at Honda, it is what accounts for their breathtaking success. The fixation is not on some big hairy audacious goal in the future, but on being better now than you were yesterday. Paradoxically, when you are maniacally focused on making continuous tiny improvements, you give yourself the best chance possible to achieve your dreams.

This is a principle I have tried to apply to my life over the last few years, and it has been truly life-changing. I am even applying Kaizen at applying Kaizen 😉. The power of viewing anything in life through this lens is that it brings you back to the present moment (Read More:Mindfulness in Motion). This helps you keep the big picture vision in mind as well!

Instead of viewing tasks as a burden, viewing them as a privilege and an opportunity to improve just for the sake of joy, transforms even the most mundane tasks you complete. Personally, this was essential in allowing me to successfully complete my master’s thesis in time so that I could begin my medical studies in the fall. Undoubtedly, you will fall back into your old comfortable way of thinking, but it is essential to become aware when you do and apply the principle of Kaizen.

In my journey of completely embodying this principle, I realized that I needed to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and face my fears directly. I have started creating my own business where I help athletes rediscover the joy of pain-free movement by using Douglas Heel’s Be Activated technique, along with a slew of other modalities to optimize athletes’ performances.

To propel my efforts to establish a clientele of athletes that are sick of being in pain and not achieving their potential, I have created a website: www.pavanmehat.com where athletes can connect with me to reach their full potential. If you would like to connect, you can contact me here or like my page on Facebook. Further, I will have a blog on my new website, so if you enjoy my posts and find they allow you to better pursue personal excellence, feel free to visit. I will no longer be posting on this blog. Lastly, for anybody interested in a muscle activation visit here.

Thank you everyone who has supported and inspired me to write on this blog post. I am truly grateful for every one of my readers and for the opportunity to share my ideas and hopefully positively impact and enrich your lives.

Continuously Improving, 

Pavan Mehat 

March 1st 2016: Thought of the Day

“Self actualization or enlightenment is when you are no longer caught up with the good opinions of others. “ – Dr. Wayne Dyer

I had the privilege of attending Douglas Heel’s level 1 Be Activated workshop this weekend in Chicago. It was a life-transforming event. I am definitely looking forward to attending the level 2 workshop and learning more about the nuances of this unreasonably effective technique.

However, near the end of the workshop, Doug quoted Dr. Wayne Dyer when describing enlightenment and self actualization. He related the optimal sequence of athletic movements (Zone 1 -> 2 -> 3) to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. His statement resonated with me at such a deep level not only because of the wisdom in it, but because he actually completely embodied his teachings.

He was unapologetically himself. He did not care if you liked him or not. Almost everyone can deal with someone hating them, but the vast majority cannot handle someone loving them. Just look at all the celebrities that go completely bonkers once they become famous.

Even though I could recognize the truth in his words, unfortunately, there were too many times where I did not have the courage to go against the grain and do what my heart heart told me to do. This is a skill that must be cultivated on a daily basis to live a truly fulfilled life.

Luckily for me, I got the wonderful opportunity to improve on these skills during my plane ride back to Vancouver. Usually on a plane I prefer the aisle seat because I am constantly getting up and pacing up and down the airplane.

However, on the way to Chicago I was assigned the middle seat. Instead of staying true to my nature and asking to get up, I stayed put for the entire flight. Boy did I pay for it. My body felt trashed once I landed in Chicago.

So when I was assigned a middle seat again for my return flight, I had an important decision to make. Was I going to cower to societal pressures to conform or was I going to stay true to myself? I pushed myself through my groundless fears and discomfort and got up multiple times during the flight. The end result: the gentleman next to me was very happy because he got a lot of time with extra room while I was standing, and I felt like a badass once I touched back down in Canada.

This story I just told you may seem inconsequential, but the small things you compromise on will snowball until you live a life that is the complete opposite of what your heart desires to survive and thrive. How you do anything is how you do everything. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that you constantly strive to be unapologetically you, because no one else can. As doing so takes a lot of courage and discipline, it will not happen overnight, but is something you must work on every day.

Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,

Pavan Mehat

PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.

Pavan Mehat’s LinkedIn

Pavan Mehat’s Instagram

 

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Using Douglas Heel’s “Be-Activated” – 4 Week Reflections – Part I

This system has completely changed the way in which I look at the body and mind – posture, body language, breathing, recovery, focus, and performance.  I now activate almost every point we were shown every day, in the morning and/or before training.  I have many of my athletes do a smaller version of activation before practices/workouts.  Our reactions are below:

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What’s changed for me?

Running/jumping feels effortless

Used to sleep with a pillow between my legs because hip pain would wake me up at night, and have avoided playing basketball to avoid aggravating my hip’s FAI impingement/damaged labrum – pain is completely gone at rest and during intense activity

Low back (SI joint) pain gone a few hours after bothersome activity (heavier weight training) instead of a few days. This recovery time is still getting shorter as well (update: have not had pain in several days, for the first time in a year)

My usual head-tilted-to-the-right posture has diminished significantly

Left hip can raise up above 110* while standing, when it could not go much past 90* previously

Significantly less soreness in hamstrings after sprinting/doing posterior chain work, more soreness in the glute

Passive range of motion of the gastrocs (calves) went from barely 90* to 15-20* past that – if the calves can only get to 90* the whole body will have to compensate

Previously fractured area of my right foot no longer goes numb in the cold/with tightly laced shoes – felt a serious rush of blood in there during one particular treatment

Right knee pain can be reduced/almost entirely eliminated immediately by rubbing a particular point and repeating 1-2x daily for a few seconds – and every time it comes back it comes back less

Neck and shoulders no longer stuck in forward position – feel taller, more confident, with significantly less tension

Jaw finally jiggles while sprinting – gotten rid of harmful tension there

Have not gotten my usual monthly migraine, even with a more stressful month than usual

Butt (glute muscles) have grown significantly relative to others

Maintaining posture feels easy/effortless by focusing on breathing – in slouching I am aware of how much it restricts my breathing!

Can breathe into my belly with no extra effort

I can get out of fight or flight stress response much more quickly than before to make rational choices while under stress

I do almost no stretching now – once the right muscles fire, your body removes the tightness it created as a way of protecting itself from your dysfunctional movement patterns

What’s changed for my athletes?

I have tried the technique (mostly zone 1 – diaphragm/glute/psoas) on friends, family and a large portion of my collegiate track athletes – their reactions listed below. The first few are almost universal, while others are more specific; although I may have included a specific quote all reactions I list here were mentioned/seen in more than one athlete/client:

Improved strength – ability to contract zone 1 (psoas/glute) without tensing jaw, shin, or other distal areas to assist – meaning changed order of sequencing – more on that in part II

Ability to breath into belly more easily/more deeply

Changed posture – taller, reduced head forward/rounded shoulders position

“I feel lighter”/”like I lost 20 pounds”

“Effortless” feeling while walking/running/sprinting

“I didn’t notice much until halfway through my run – my legs didn’t feel heavy where they usually do”

Improved mechanics while running – greater push through hips, knees appear to pop up without extra effort

Relaxation – at rest, and seen while running (ability to relax jaw)

Improved ranges of motion – as drastic as hamstrings going from 45* to 90*, calves from 0* past 90* to 25* past 90* in one 10 minute session

Reduced/eliminated pain in back/hip

Reduced anxiety during strength test after treatment (less feeling of “things about to snap”)

Feeling “cleansed”

And my favorite reaction, from an athlete that was clearly not sold after treatment, halfway through the toughest workout of the week: “I just feel so loose right now. I feel amazing.” Then he proceeded to crush the rest of the workout.

The Story:

The morning of the Super Bowl was a little manic for me – our local Patriots were playing that night, and a blizzard was scheduled to hit before work the next morning. But both of those things were not really on my mind, as I was trying to reserve a spot at Douglas Heel’s “Be-Activated” Level One seminar the following weekend, looking into the last-minute travel arrangements that would go along with it.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect – the videos/articles I saw showed results, but since this system didn’t fit into my previous knowledge – touching points on the stomach to gain flexibility in the calf, for example – part of me was not sold. We worked in partners on both days, one partner for each day, to learn activation. My partners were novices in activation work, as I was – one had experience with manual therapy as an osteopath, the other was a high school track & field coach. Video from another course, but similar to what we saw (and experienced) while in Chicago.

The Seminar

**Part II of this article will explain some of the theory behind why this works**

Felt cleansed afterwards – endorphins out of this world, perhaps partially because some of the points were so painful – but I also felt that I had let go of things that my body and mind had held onto for years. Difficult to describe, but profound and worth mentioning, since I am not the only one who mentioned feeling that way.

I have studied Zen, tai chi, and chi gong for 7+ years…I thought I knew how to breathe into my belly. After that day I took breaths into my belly that I don’t think I had taken since high school, if not longer – activating the diaphragm and psoas made an impact on the quality and natural depth of my breathing.

I visited a friend that night who is living in the area – he remarked that I seemed “really excited” about my work as we talked – I had a ton of new energy, that’s for sure.

SINCE THEN

As a former athlete recovering from several injuries, a couple in particular combining to end my college athletic career early, I have always felt a feeling of the wheels about to fall off while sprinting.  It’s not a happy feeling, it is my brain receiving signals from my body that something ain’t quite right.  Upon returning to practice, I noticed myself running back and forth between coaching venues the way a kid runs – getting somewhere serves as an excuse for the joyous activity that is running. I was bouncing off of the walls with energy. That feeling of the wheels falling off being imminent was completely gone and I felt freer than I had in a long time. Later that week, there was a day in which my car’s battery died and I had to wait at the shop all day, missing both of my jobs for that day – despite the initial stress, I was able to return to a state of acceptance about missing work by focusing on my breathing and my posture. The next day, I had too much energy and a blizzard was threatening after I picked up the car – I didn’t have time for a workout at the gym, as the snow had already started to fall, I knew my sanity for the next two days holed up in my home was at stake. So I laced up my trainers and ran. A couple minutes in I noticed that I didn’t feel any tightness, so I turned it up for a stride. Before long, my “run” turned into sprints on pavement at about 85-90% intensity. In 30* weather, with the snow falling – without any tightness, without the usual anxiety accompanying maximal effort. It was awesome.

While the initial rush has worn off, I am in significantly less pain on a daily basis than I have been in at any point in the past 6 years, and my posture is effortlessly so much better. Perhaps just as important, my relationship with stress has changed – I am much more able to address situations calmly, with an open mind. By changing my posture, I can change the way that I feel and think for the better – perhaps because our posture influences the hormones our body releases. I really buy into Heel’s saying that “what’s in the body is in the mind, what’s in the mind is in the body.” Look in a mirror, close your eyes, then picture your most embarrassing moment in vivid detail. Open your eyes again. From demonstrations I’ve done with my athletes, 100% have adopted a forward neck, rounded shoulders, hip-out-of-alignment posture, sometimes even with crossed arms. How can you perform in that position?? Any trainer, coach or mom can tell you that a body looking like that cannot safely and effectively perform. On the flip side, the posture that kids adopt on their best days – a light, open posture – is exactly what Heel’s system builds. This is the position that trainers dream about their athletes getting into, and coaches picture when they picture their team succeeding. Don’t take my word for it, watch people on their best and worst days. Change the body and you change the mind, change the mind and you change the body.

To learn more about activation, and to try it yourself, contact me at swuest22@gmail.com,

check out this article (http://www.joekelly.me/pdfs/Muscle%20Activation.pdf) in Runner’s World UK,

or check out this list of US practitioners (http://itccca.com/9825/2015/02/dont-implode-explode-be-activated/)

I have to thank Joel Smith, Tony Holler, Dr. Tom Nelson and Chris Korfist for providing enough information/excitement for me to fly out to Chicago to learn from Heel in person. Smith, at just-fly-sports.com for posted an interview with Chris Korfist in which he mentions Heel’s Activation work – causing me to google around and see Tony Holler’s articles on Activation, Nelson’s videos/website (activateanddominate.com) on the activation work he does with Nazareth’s football team, along with actual injury statistics and player/coach reactions.

You can read Smith’s articles here:

http://www.just-fly-sports.com/epic-speed-training-interview-with-chris-korfist/

http://www.just-fly-sports.com/chris-korfist-interview-on-ankle-rocker-speed-and-vertical-jumping/

You can read Holler’s articles here:

http://itccca.com/9825/2015/02/dont-implode-explode-be-activated/

http://itccca.com/8430/2014/10/you-only-know-what-you-know/

http://www.freelapusa.com/3-reasons-why-activation-is-a-game-changer/

http://www.freelapusa.com/hamstrings-activation-and-speed/

http://itccca.com/8163/2014/09/speed-never-sleeps/